Barry Schwabsky

  • Jeff Perrone

    Billed as “First Paintings,” Jeff Perrone’s new works actually combine the glazed ceramic tiles for which he is already known with canvases painted in gouache or with colored sand (the kind that’s sold in pet stores for decorating aquariums). The paintings consist of anywhere from four to twelve segments (only one consists of a single canvas) arrayed in variously dynamic or totemic configurations. Rife with color, pattern, and imagery, they give an immediate feeling of energy and exhilaration that’s hard not to like. There is a wonderful sense of velocity to it all, the feeling that someone’s

  • Cary Smith

    Cary Smith makes the kind of abstract painting—distilled, self-assured, historically conscientious without being mannered—that gives credence to Jürgen Habermas’ assertion that modernity, or in this case Modernism, remains “an unfinished project.” In composition, Smith’s paintings recall the ’50s (John McLaughlin, for instance) and in technique echo the ’60s (Brice Marden). Yet, they relate to the politics of meaning in a manner that reflects demands specific to the present—a time in which there is little concession to esthetic gratification—in part by resisting them. In an

  • Moira Dryer

    These first two posthumous shows reveal that Moira Dryer was an artist who combined pragmatic experimentalism with a deep concentration of feeling. Dryer promised to be a central painter of her generation thanks to her completely persuasive (because deeply intuitive) synthesis of two apparently incompatible strains of post–Abstract Expressionism: on the one hand, the literalism of Robert Ryman’s “investment” of the entirety of the painting-object (edges, hardware, and so on, along with the painted surface), and on the other, the allusive, quasi-literary nature of Ross Bleckner’s historicism. To

  • Ross Neher

    Translating broad sweeps of atmospheric space and light into densely corporeal surfaces, Ross Neher’s abstract paintings, for all their maestoso formality and distance, touch on powerful and disturbing paradoxes of contemporary painting and its critical reception. Neher’s is a thoughtfully historicizing approach. A reading of his theoretical essays confirms what the paintings themselves intimate: that they are the fruit of a principled conservatism in esthetic matters. They attempt to graft the compositional elaboration of high European painting back onto aspects of American abstraction—the

  • Randolfo Rocha

    It’s been five years since Randolfo Rocha’s last one-person show, and those who remember his overtly representational, politically topical paintings of the ’80s might imagine this to be the work of a completely different artist. Gone are the proliferating, disjunctive imagery, the references to Latin American political repression (Rocha was born and educated in Brazil), the clashing colors, the esthetic of excess. Instead, here we encounter rigorously flat, hard-edged, rectilinear, but irregular geometries in severest black and white. These crisp, physically assertive paintings have nothing

  • Konrad Klapheck

    Although Konrad Klapheck is of the same generation as, for instance, Gerhard Richter (his fellow professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy), Klapheck’s work gives the impression of belonging to quite another time, perhaps that of Rene Magritte. Like many of the Surrealists, Klapheck finds his images in objects that are quite ordinary but obsolete or seldom used, and like Magritte in particular he renders them in a style that is as prosaic, old-fashioned, and quasi-anonymous as the objects themselves. This style is cool and fastidious, but never slick (as it invariably appears in reproduction).

  • David Row

    Like much of David Row’s work in the mid to late ’80s, but unlike the three-part paintings in his last New York show in 1991, his new paintings are mostly diptychs. Also marking a return to his earlier style, color, while far from an afterthought, is a recessive element in these new paintings, giving way to more broadly structural—or better, logical—concerns. I once called Row’s early-’90s paintings meditations on the numbers one, two, and three; maintaining the mathematical paradigm these new paintings are meditations on the numbers one, two, and zero.

    In these new paintings the broad, oblate

  • Carl Andre

    Can visual art and poetry be one and the same? Displaying 600 pages of writing in vitrines against the gallery walls as though they were drawings certainly frustrates some of the usual desiderata for reading poetry. Carl Andre’s exhibition “Words” consisted of some 600 sheets typed by the artist between 1958 and 1972. The poet’s hand is usually nothing to his poem, and no typeface used to reproduce it is likely to affect the poem’s existence. Though the display of Andre’s poems—as holographic sheets—makes them difficult to read, it does put us in the frame of mind to see them. That they were

  • Nancy Bowen

    These days, Louise Bourgeois–inspired sculpture seems ubiquitous, but Nancy Bowen gives a newly sharpened edge to biomorphic sculpture through a finely calibrated use of diverse materials such as glass, clay, bronze, wax, and synthetic hair; witty and pointed extrapolations of form; a cross-pollination of craft traditions with specifically sculptural concerns; but especially through the intensity of her investment in the by now stock thematics of “the body.”

    Typical of Bowen’s concerns and methods is Aural Obsession, 1992–93, one of the largest of the 12 sculptures here (there were also four

  • Julian Trigo

    Julian Trigo’s paintings are more readily thought of as drawings on canvas. This is not only because of the medium used—charcoal on a uniform color ground in each work—but because of the sketchy linear style, and above all the intimate, quasi-pornographic nature of the imagery, which has a richer tradition in drawing than in the more public art of painting.

    Trigo depicts children rapt in somehow innocent yet twisted erotic delvings. This is definitely a pregenital phase—the sex play is all mouths and hands. The sense of personal boundaries breaks down; it becomes hard to say where one body ends

  • Ross Bleckner

    Selected from work ranging from 1985 to the present, this show consisted of some two hundred small paintings, mostly on canvas but a few on paper, as well as a single large painting (made specifically for this exhibition) representing the brick wall of Ross Bleckner’s studio with a number of the works shown here laminated onto it. The paintings may be rough and informal or, more often, quite elaborately worked, but in either case tend to project their autonomy and their contingency at once. While Bleckner’s larger works always seem to involve themes of mourning and ascension, vision and

  • Sean Scully

    Without the boxiness of his previous work, Sean Scully’s new paintings are certainly less physically overbearing. Each large canvas contains a smaller, inset one that evokes projections collapsed back onto their supports—as though Scully wanted you to remain aware enough of their former invasiveness to give the paintings credit for holding back. With the single exception of a work appropriately titled Red Way, 1992, Scully’s palette here is an unusually extended range of grays; two diptychs (Calling, 1992, and As Was, 1993) include steel elements that fit right into the tonal schema which is

  • Willem de Kooning

    Willem de Kooning’s art has fallen into a strange twilight since Elaine de Kooning’s death and the subsequent legal battle over his guardianship. No new paintings of de Kooning’s have been exhibited since 1987, but those were of a breathtaking incisiveness and allusive economy—among the artist’s greatest works. As some of us continue to wonder just what his extraordinary work of the mid ’80s might have led to—and anticipate the de Kooning painting retrospective at the National Gallery—we can be grateful for having had the opportunity to reconsider another of the most vibrant parts of his career,

  • Thomas Nozkowski

    It’s a considerably more delicate problem than usual to articulate the unity of viewpoint or sensibility that is nonetheless everywhere palpable in Thomas Nozkowski’s paintings. These small abstract paintings, and only slightly smaller drawings, combine rectilinear geometry with biomorphic wobbliness as easily as their facture ranges from the most feinschmecking scumbling to correctly Modern hard-edged directness. Each painting is the result of many pentimenti, visible as traces within the surface, though the results show no evidence of vacillation; every image feels decisive, precise, as

  • Leon Golub/Nancy Spero

    “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” This chilling observation of Walter Benjamin’s is nowhere more fully taken to heart than in the work of Leon Golub and Nancy Spero. A two-part presentation surveyed work from the last four decades, first with selections from the ’60s and ’70s, then from the ’50s and ’90s. Welcome as it was, the first half of the exhibition was the less surprising. During the period it covered, Golub’s and Spero’s oeuvres were complementary, each faithfully situated in a distinct sphere. What the second part of the show

  • Dan Christensen

    Is it merely “camp” to enjoy the latter-day production of a second-generation Color Field painter? Perhaps. In the case of Dan Christensen’s new work, one can easily tick off some of the salient points raised by Susan Sontag’s canonical essay of 1964. These paintings uphold artifice and stylization over beauty; in fact, they could serve as didactic examples of how to push devices meant to be seductive to the point where they actually become visually painful. They are indeed neutral with regard to the notion of content, almost as if the artist had set out to revise Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb

  • Leslie Wayne

    Last year, Leslie Wayne curated a group show with the demurely categorical title of “Painters,” placing her own work in the company of paintings by artists such as Milton Resnick and Jake Berthot, among other, less-well-known cultists of the hand. If that’s really what she means by “painter,” however, then she’d best find a more pertinent rubric for herself. I’m reminded instead of what Cézanne is supposed to have called Courbet: “A builder. A crude mixer of plaster. A pulverizer of tones. He masoned like a Roman.” Wayne is capable of treating paint with great delicacy, as the brooding atmospherics

  • Alex Katz

    The bland, unruffled look of high cool that typifies both the people Alex Katz por- Fabian Marcacclo, The Altered Genetics of trays, and the way he paints them, can be read either as a Warholian blankness and emphasis on surface, or as harboring the moodily passive ambiguities and dreamy distances of a Fairfield Porter landscape. At first glance, it might appear that Katz’s free-standing cutouts would weigh in heavily on the surface-and-blankness side of the scale. Such stage-set-like figures seem to argue for a view of personality as facade, and, formally, to work as much against the possibility

  • Fabian Marcaccio

    Fabian Marcaccio uses the conventional elements of Modernist practice in an artificially rule-bound, self-conscious, and non-idiomatic way to create not a chain of orderly communicative utterances but peculiar and estranging sequences that, for all their blatancy, continually short-circuit any effort to comprehend them. This work speaks Painting as a Foreign Language.

    This exhibition consisted of a series of five paintings titled “The Altered Genetics of Painting,” 1992–93. The paintings, closely allied in color, in some respects seemed to form a quasi-narrative cycle, yet were also self-contained.

  • Michael van Ofen

    It took only a glance at Michael van Ofen’s first exhibition in the U. S. to peg him as one of Gerhard Richter’s former pupils. What identified van Ofen as such wasn’t simply his evident concern with the relation between painting and photography, the slippage between abstraction and representation. More important is the way such essentially formal concerns can be seen as a means of registering the weight of history through reticence and distance, through an “objective,” methodical approach that might just as easily have fallen into solipsism. The paintings in this show (all works untitled, 1992)